According to Evelyn Underhill “It is the guidance of one soul by and through another soul. It is the individual and intensive side of pastoral work. God comes to and affects individuals very largely through other individuals . . . Direction work can, of course, be done only and all the time in absolute interior dependence on God; and all the most valuable part of it will be done silently, by the influence of your prayer on the souls that you are called upon to guide.”
Underhill reminds her readers that each person’s spiritual personality is unique: “the spiritual personality you are helping to form is probably quite different from your own; and perhaps even different from your own secret ideal for it . . . It needs a great deal of self-abandonment to do all this with simplicity—it means learning from those who come to you as well as trying to teach—and that is the purifying part of personal religious work.
“Moreover those who do this work are commonly themselves growing and changing; they have not arrived, but are traveling and exploring as they go. It is generally a case of one more or less dusty pilgrim helping another . . .
“This is where a strict personal training in mental prayer and spiritual reading abundantly justifies itself. You may not yourself be called to the mountains; but you will be more able to advise and understand prospective mountaineers if you have at least put on heavy boots and tried a little hill-climbing, than if you have merely spent all your time on the level growing nice little patches of devotional mustard and cress.
“It is imperative that those called to guide the souls of others, should themselves be humble pupils in the school of interior prayer.”
(Quotations from Concerning The Inner Life, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, England, 1999, pages 84-85, 90-92)